Fruits and vegetables have been a vital part of the Indian diet since ancient times. The Indian subcontinent has a diverse climate, which allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. In ancient India, fruits and vegetables were not only consumed for their nutritional value but they were also used for medicinal purposes and were a part of cultural and religious practices.
The reason for writing this post is to help you understand the type of fruits and vegetables we Indians have been eating for millennia not centuries. This helps in understanding what types of fruits and vegetables are native to India and mentioned in our literature of ancient India.
One of the earliest references to fruits and vegetables in ancient India can be found in the Rig Veda, a collection of ancient Sanskrit hymns. The Rig Veda mentions various fruits such as grapes, pomegranates, and figs, and also mentions the use of herbs and spices in cooking.
In ancient India, the consumption of fruits and vegetables was not limited to just the affluent. Vegetables such as spinach, eggplant, and onions were commonly consumed by people from all social classes. In fact, vegetarianism has been a part of Indian culture since ancient times, with many people abstaining from meat for religious, cultural, or health reasons.
Fruits such as mangoes, bananas, and jackfruits have also been a part of Indian cuisine since ancient times. Mangoes, in particular, have been cultivated in India for over 4,000 years and are considered to be the national fruit of India. In addition, Indian cuisine also includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that are unique to the region, such as tamarind, curry leaves, and drumsticks.
These fruits or vegetables find mentioned in ancient Ayurvedic treaties like Charak Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, Chankaya’s Arthashashtra, Ashtānga Hridayam by Vagabhata, Ramayana, Mahabharata, etc.
In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, fruits, and vegetables were used for their medicinal properties. For example, turmeric was used to treat inflammation, while amla (Indian gooseberry) was used to boost immunity. Similarly, the Neem tree was used for its antibacterial properties, and ginger was used to aid digestion.
Fruits and vegetables were also a part of religious and cultural practices in ancient India. For example, the banana tree is considered to be sacred in Hinduism and is often used in religious rituals. Similarly, the mango tree is associated with Lord Shiva and is considered to be a symbol of love and fertility.
In conclusion, fruits and vegetables have been an integral part of Indian culture since ancient times. They have been consumed for their nutritional value, and medicinal properties, and have played a significant role in religious and cultural practices. Even today, fruits and vegetables continue to be a staple of the Indian diet and are an important part of the country’s rich culinary heritage.